Ellen Boyette


SMALL TALK

To flail again, within the call, to face
behind the awl and laud no meeker
skirmish. I heard you glib-running
a glimmer through thread and asked whether

or not potholder making was still the fashion.
A red heron, a rescue boat– some trinkets
spitting blood into piss, paint
into dark and plot across the day, a marker

to the face– take the planets, break
a year, give a year a ship and call
the year a spade. Pedal is to
petal is to: the analogy I’m making,

if possible almost likened eternities
gets you going— driving away
crowds of loved ones in slow motion
reveals only the image of a power drill

making love to a rubber nipple, I’m sorry
I just meant to but couldn’t channel
the surfable dialectic and now
lo, the stiff breeze teases this

proprioceptive undercurrent like wrung
hunger guts: prepositionless, x-rayless,
having not spoken for days less equivalent
to breadcrumbs and still days to come—

often a hmm to oneself reviles, no?
Brackens the inhabitable isles of air
where migraines unlubricate inner tender
private drift, sends one humping

against murmur dregs til chafed. Pitter
til close is a way out of income and income
is on its way out, drought patterns
dispelling mythologies of ancient grasses

fit for un-chain salad options we might
skim decidedly against as against we might
parades, as against we might a vapid
field of swordplayers on a Wednesday—

it’s too much sometimes, all the shit
doggie-paddling won’t suffice to distance,
won’t calamine the rampant itching
you’d forbid me scratch an arm off to.

Grandparents love those many-birded clocks
great-horning owls into REM cycles,
a who into duvet laden breath realm,
ordering lesser hours into aquiverous chime…

If I could mean something nefarious
by a belt buckle in a bathtub, I’d rather
I couldn’t, you know? Tupperware
wearing down of anecdote, a millstone– blue

carrion elbowing into my, no–
goblet of what you’re having, I’ll– no,
choreographed conviction over dull
twinges of others’ ailings like a coffin were

descending, sails winding, moving, could you,
no, you really could– perform me, a marionette,
I’m asking, the lingering petunias
billowing in the drift of how-our- days-were?
 
 
**
 
 
DOUBLE TAKE

Unblemished though in want of surface, bluely
I haywired a grave crop, caught a hangnail
mid-penance. Dropped it. Drilled further, railed
beneath the mound dumbly with a mouthharp
for a saw, and saw the mound unfurling.

Not feverish so much as fervent, the dirt
forbade me wed it back to sleep, whether
granular air commits to grandiose or feathered
gavel-banging, I nonetheless pitted it pat.
Look– we’ve all felt zero interest in zoos,

one need not exhume extraneous limbs
to articulate the headachey gloss of artifacts
oohed and ahhed over, moussed verbally
til flattened—take from a pressed coin a coiled
rattlesnake and out of it ragtime a thimble’s

worth of venom. That’s a vindictive ruse
I could incubate, inculcated as I am by
the surface of even lime, lithe in the rim
of what seems questionable—a quotient of drink
undowned ‘cross mahogany watermarks, unthink

-able in even xeroxed treaties for xenophobic
killjoys whose kink is kinkshaming. I’d tear
a jewel into the moon if it made me seem judicious.
How? Yardstick and yarn. It’s a young man’s game,
tensing index to icon and omitting the touch.
 
 
**
 
 

DILATED

Indifference or resignation to disease
directs the ventilation of my speech, deifying

less distinct figures under indigo lit
and candied waiting tanks, a plastic dentist’s

chair, surgeons indistinguishable from
diptych renderings of cardinal benediction.

Idiocy, like the sun, dilutes the cornea

and the tomb, though dim light never did
a diligent man make. Sterile with light

like Iditarod dogs, I grow dizzy in distorted
air, disjointed with breeding. Diphtheria

should be of no disturbance, though I’d
deem the Adirondack trail devisor hallowed

who survives it, braiding daffodils into rope,
hammering obsidian into sundial– same

difference– whimpering inventions distract
the diagnosed poorly, make failed disciples.
 
 
**
 
 
SELF PORTRAIT AS GLITCHED SKY

The fruitless fields have bored you
with the medium of air, noon mode

through which there is no ratio
of argument to document. Materials

subject to vision, but the day’s at least maroon
as a toothache, a foot-hole catching

sunset where a hare sleeps harder
not knowing the mechanical yearnings affixed

to reaping. Don’t let me keep you
tying factory line knots with laces just

for show. A libretto of clouds part to reveal
the HTML of your desire but what did you expect?

A sooty Grecian icon?
Another bright breakfast option?

Sliver of sky like the fate
from an eight ball: It is decidedly so.  

Either take the sterile scape to see flightless
birds emerging from your nest egg

or recall the barebreasted women milling mash
from trees. It was in a video. It was through

Visine, the caustic laughter of horses awaiting
hide-lessness for someone’s future

back pocket wallet. Beyond that,
wall-to- wall ether. There’s a dialogue

of vastness to further back-and- forth.
Sky re-configures. Says count the sequins

of the slow drop of a priceless watch.
Of the dewed apple falling.

Says watch the ants in vinegar dance
across the sill like a barrage of striking typos.
 
 

**

ELLEN BOYETTE is an MFA candidate at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she is an editorial assistant for The Iowa Review. Her work appears or is forthcoming at Leveler, poets.org, The Iowa Review blog, and Flag + Void.

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